Steroid Addiction and Abuse
Steroids are produced in the human body naturally. The anabolic steroids you hear of athletes using are testosterone, and used to build muscle quickly. Originally developed to treat males who didn't produce sufficient testosterone and to build up muscle in concentration camp survivors, athletes started experimenting with them in the 1940s. Steroids may be injected, taken orally, or rubbed onto the skin as a cream or a gel.
What is Steroid Addiction?
Someone who is addicted to steroids may start using because they want to improve their appearance or their performance on the playing field. Over time, they become more dependent on the "roids", but in a different way than someone who is addicted to heroin or opiates might get hooked. Rather than experiencing a rush or a high when taking them, the steroid user discovers that they feel better when using them than without them.
Signs of Steroid Abuse
Signs that someone has become addicted to steroids are as follows:
- Continuing to use steroids in spite of negative consequences
- Preoccupation with getting the next dose
- Steroid use becomes something the user can no longer control
- Abnormal speed of muscle growth and workout intensity
- Withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using steroids
Causes of Dependency
Doctors say that increased teen steroids abuse is tied to young people's increasing obsession with body image. A need for enhanced athletic performance is another major contributor to experimentation with anabolic steroids. These two factors combined represent the largest causes of dependency since as one improves their physique or heightens their athletic abilities they are seldom willing to consider stopping since the thought of a reversal of these two perceived improvements is unacceptable. The addiction becomes self-perpetuating while they see "gains" but as with most drug addictions eventually the abuser must continue use just to "maintain".
Effects of Use
Steroid addicts may experience pain and have difficulty sleeping as a result of their use. To treat these conditions, they may become involved in self-medicating. The same people who supply the steroids may also be selling opiates. This choice makes sense, since opiates will relieve pain and make the user feel drowsy enough to go to sleep.
Complications and Long Term Effects of Steroid Abuse
There are a number of complications and health issues that are associated with steroids abuse, including:
- Bad breath
- Heart disease
- Male pattern baldness
Steroid Treatment and Help for Abusers
A person who is addicted to steroids will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking the substance. Until the body rids itself of the steroids, the person may experience:
- Cravings for steroids
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Reduced interest in sex
Feelings of depression are also common among those undergoing steroids treatment, and some patients experience suicidal thoughts. Steroid addiction treatment should be done in a rehab center where clients can be supervised during the withdrawal process. The steroid rehab center will use a number of techniques to treat the addiction, including:
- Anger management classes
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Medication for cravings and pain
Beyond Quitting: Steroid Recovery and Rehabilitation
Once the client's stay at a rehab center is complete, a plan for follow-up care with a therapist needs to be put in place to reduce the chance of a relapse. Attending a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous is also helpful. The client could also choose to go for Self Help Substance Abuse Recovery programs instead.